7-Eleven Banks

NCR has inked a three-year, multi-million-dollar agreement with 7-Eleven stores to deploy Web-enabled “Vcom” kiosks in 1,000 convenience stores later this year. The agreement calls for 7-Eleven to use NCR’s Convenience Connexions solution and includes the purchase of 1,000 NCR Personas 78s, software and a complete set of services and support to expand Vcom, which have been tested in 98 7-Eleven stores in Texas and Florida. NCR’s APTRA open architecture software platform will permit a robust set of automated services in the three-foot-wide, self-service terminal. Through exclusive agreements with its Vcom partners, 7-Eleven currently offers customers ATM transactions, check cashing through Certegy Check Services, and Western Union money order purchases and money transfers. Customers already conduct some 100 million ATM transactions and purchase $4.5 billion in face value of money orders annually at 7-Eleven’s U. S. stores. Other Vcom offerings planned for the initial 1,000-store rollout are telecommunications services through Verizon Communications, Inc., and e-shopping using Cyphermint, Inc.’s secure cash-payment technology, called Pay Cash System, to access select e-commerce products, such as event ticketing, weather reports, lottery results and travel directions. In exchange for 7-Eleven granting strategic partners exclusive rights to offer their products through Vcom kiosks, the service partners pay placement fees, a percentage of the transaction fees and expense reimbursement. 7-Eleven says it has received more than $220 million in placement-fee commitments from its other service partners, most of which are funded as Vcom kiosks are deployed.

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Counseling Fees

A MA-based credit counseling firm launched an attack this morning on counseling fees. Armed with a research report it commissioned from Washington, DC-based Economists Incorporated, Cambridge Credit Counseling said its fees are lower than fees charged by NFCC-related Consumer Credit Counseling Services companies, AICCCA companies, and unaffiliated companies. For the comparison, the Economists report used the example of a client with $16,500 of debt that is paid back over a period of five years. Of the 16 NFCC-related Consumer Credit Counseling Services companies examined, average fees at the end of that five-year period were $1,520. Among the 17 AICCCA companies examined the average fee was $1,867. Unaffiliated companies’ average fees over the five-year period were $3,225. Cambridge Credit said its fees were $1,782 for the example. The report also found that using the same example of $16,500 paid over five years, Cambridge Credit’s total revenues from fees and fair share monies accrued to the company at 9% of client payments were only $3,668. For the NFCC/Consumer Credit Counseling Services companies the average was $3,411; for the AICCCA it was $3,717 and $5,116 for the unaffiliated agencies.

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DAIMLER-CHRYSLER VISA

Stuttgart-based DaimlerChrysler Bank has changed its legal form to a stock corporation, received a full banking license, and has begun offering new products such as deposit-banking services, as well as a new DaimlerChrysler VISA, both with the special rewards program “RoadMiles.” The DaimlerChrysler VISA is the first German credit card with an EMV chip and carries an annual fee of EUR 29. Those who pay their bills with the DaimlerChrysler Card automatically collect “RoadMiles”, which can be redeemed for attractive products and services. Gas purchases even get triple points. The bank will initially target its 4 million customers in Germany for the new products. The new banking products will not be offered at car dealerships, but instead via the Internet and the DaimlerChrysler Bank customer service center by telephone, fax, e-mail, or normal letter. The license for deposit-banking services is also valid for market entry into other European countries (Europapass).

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SYNOVATE

London-based Aegis Research is changing its name to Synovate. By the end of this year all of the Aegis Research companies, in 43 countries, will be re-branded with the new name. In the Americas, Aegis Research companies also include BAIGlobal, Market Facts, Market Facts of Canada, Strategy Research Corporation, Tandem Research Associates, Marketing Strategy & Planning, Motoresearch, MarkTrend, Copernicus, and IMR Research. Its worldwide network consists of international research firms Asia Market Intelligence, Market Facts, Pegram Walters, MEMRB, Demoscopie, Market&More and Research Fact, among others. Designhouse developed the logo and other elements of the Synovate corporate identity. Aegis Group plc is the holding company for Carat, its media strategy, planning and buying business and Synovate.

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ATM Threats

The Electronic Funds Transfer Association has formed a senior-level task force to investigate potential threats to the integrity of the nation’s ATM systems with an initial focus on money laundering and ATM skimming. The task force will hold its inaugural meeting July 23 at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC and will investigate ways to maintain the safety and security that consumers feel when they use ATM machines. The meeting, open to the public, will feature a presentation by Gregg James, U.S. Secret Service special agent. Also participating will be Noshir Kathok, an analyst and management consultant in the field of electronic payments.

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PAY-GATEWAY BILLER

British Columbia-based Paradata Systems has launched a new payment product that lets businesses use the Internet to automatically charge customer’s credit cards on a recurring basis. “PayGateway Biller” will streamline billing processes by allowing businesses to sign up without any payment integration required; automatically charge customer’s credit cards on a recurring basis; choose from multiple billing periods; maintain billing information through an easy to use web interface; automatically e-mail payment confirmation to customers; and receive daily email summaries of transaction results. Paradata is targeting associations, charitable organizations, insurance companies, publishers, health and fitness clubs, governments, municipalities, ISPs or web hosts for the new product.

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ASK RECOGNITION

ASK S.A. has been named to the Top 10 of European emerging private tech companies in the Tornado Insider 100 List. Since its founding in 1997, ASK has grown to become the leading company supplying contactless smart cards for Automated Fare Collection in public transit systems and highway toll applications. ASK has already supplied more than seven million contactless cards and paper contactless tickets for more than 35 cities in Europe, Asia and America. The company also provides OEM readers to ease the integration of contactless technology in existing terminals. Clients include SNCF and RATP in Paris, as well as transit operators in Manchester, Rome, Lisbon, Lyon, Venice, Naples, Taipei and Nice.

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Sub-Prime Casualty

SD-based sub-prime credit card specialist, The Credit Store, confirmed this morning it may be unable to meet its existing obligations maturing during July and would likely be unable to continue to fund its operations by the end of the month. The Company indicated it may file a petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy act. The Credit Store said it is currently engaged in discussions with its various institutional creditors and possible new sources of funding looking toward extensions of maturity dates or refinancing of its existing indebtedness. It is also in the process of negotiating receivable sales. The Company also announced it has settled litigation involving its Renaissance Trust I for $4.0 million plus interest over a four-year period. The settlement may result in a negative net worth for the Company. At the end of the quarter, The Credit Store had $121,293,445 in performing credit card receivables and 89,673 accounts. The Credit Store acquires portfolios of non-performing consumer receivables and offers a new credit card to those consumers who agree to pay all or a portion of the outstanding amount due on their debt. The new card is issued with an initial balance and credit line equal to the agreed repayment amount. After appropriate seasoning, the Company seeks to sell or securitize these credit card receivables.

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BAI-Global

London-based Aegis Research, owner of credit card marketing monitor BAIGlobal, announced yesterday it is changing its name to Synovate. By the end of this year all of the Aegis Research companies, in 43 countries, will be re-branded with the new name, including NY-based BAIGlobal. In the Americas, Aegis Research companies also include Market Facts, Market Facts of Canada, Strategy Research Corporation, Tandem Research Associates, Marketing Strategy & Planning, Motoresearch, MarkTrend, Copernicus, and IMR Research. Its worldwide network consists of international research firms Asia Market Intelligence, Market Facts, Pegram Walters, MEMRB, Demoscopie, Market&More and Research Fact, among others. UK-based branding consultancy Designhouse developed the logo and other elements of the Synovate corporate identity.

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TS3 CARDS

Toyota Motor and JCB reported it has signed up more than two million consumers for the Toyota TS Cubic smart card since the start of this year. At the end of 2001, the co-branded JCB card hit one million cardholders. The card, which offers J/Smart for credit/debit functions and loyalty functions for Toyota, was launched in April 2001. Toyota said this week that it projects five million cardholders by 2005. The company also indicated it is seeking a relationship with American Express.

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